Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo: EPA/VNA)
 
Hanoi (VNA) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the Congress to extend martial law in the entire Mindanao and nearby islands to the end of the year to crush rebels inspired by the Islamic State militant group.
 
The President’s Spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said on July 17 that Duterte met parliamentarians requesting for an extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 as it will expire on July 22.

The possible extension is to allow security forces to continue with their operation unhampered by the deadline and to focus more on the liberation of Marawi and its rehabilitation and rebuilding, the President said.
 
[Philippine President: Martial law in southern region could last a year]

Duterte declared martial law for 60 days on the entire Mindanao and nearby island provinces after extremists linked to the Islamic State laid siege to Marawi city in May.

The country's constitution allows the President to impose martial law for up to 60 days and beyond two months, the President can extend it "for a period to be
determined by the Congress".

The ongoing Marawi conflict has so far claimed lives of 556 people, including 413 terrorists, 98 security forces and 45 civilians.-VNA